Summary: God calls us to live justly in response to His grace and to preserve the community of faith.
By Andrew Chan, PBC, Vancouver, BC
Wednesday Night Bible Study Notes
June 27, 2001
Get certain things right here:
1. Exodus experience is one of grace, not of works (ex.19:3-6). All glory to God! It is God’s initiative!
2. Hence the requirement to obey God comes out of this experience of grace. If someone saves u from drowning wouldn’t u be grateful and want to know something more about the person, perhaps get to know the hero? God laid down the ground-rules of how to get to know Him more. It is not meant to be a noose around the neck but an invitation to rely on God as the only God, to be His special people, “kingdom of priests and a holy nation” to relay blessing of redemption to others (Gen.12:1-3).
3. To apply these laws today, requires us to look as well through the lens of grace in Christ. We too are His special people. “…for you are a chosen people. You are a kingdom of priests, God’s holy nation, his very own possession. This is so you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. “Once you were not a people; now you are the people of God. Once you received none of God’s mercy;
now you have received his mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9,10 (NLT)
In our series in Exodus, we have discovered that this ex-slave community needed to be distinct from surrounding nations to be God’s representative. This is in response to the outpouring of His grace by His mighty hand of deliverance. Therefore they cannot be like the other nations, and to remain free, liberated, and not in bondage they must now learn to relate to each other and in their community in new ways. They are no longer to do like the Egyptians do to them, i.e. oppression where they’ve groaned in slavery and cried out for help (Ex.2:23). They are to “Live as free men, and not use their “freedom as a cover-up for evil” (1 Pet.2:16, NIV). They are to reflect God’s grace to others as they have experienced it and to do that they need to be a community that will honor people. This is reflected in 1 Peter 2:17 (NIV) “show proper respect to everyone: love the brotherhood of believers…” There is a principle in Scripture as stated in Galatians 5:9 (NLT) “But it takes only one wrong person among you to infect all the others—a little yeast spreads quickly through the whole batch of dough!” One bad apple spoils the whole bunch! It doesn’t take much to destroy community. One step out of freedom, and you will land yourself back in Egypt. So that is why they are to follow these laws, to ensure that they’ll stay out of Egypt and the way of the other nations…
Exodus 23:1-9 (NLT)
Do not pass along false reports. Do not cooperate with evil people by telling lies on the witness stand.
2 “Do not join a crowd that intends to do evil. When you are on the witness stand, do not be swayed in your testimony by the opinion of the majority. 3 And do not slant your testimony in favor of a person just because that person is poor.
4 “If you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey that has strayed away, take it back to its owner. 5 If you see the donkey of someone who hates you struggling beneath a heavy load, do not walk by. Instead, stop and offer to help.
6 “Do not twist justice against people simply because they are poor.
7 “Keep far away from falsely charging anyone with evil. Never put an innocent or honest person to death. I will not allow anyone guilty of this to go free.
8 “Take no bribes, for a bribe makes you ignore something that you clearly see. A bribe always hurts the cause of the person who is in the right.
9 “Do not oppress the foreigners living among you. You know what it is like to be a foreigner. Remember your own experience in the land of Egypt.
The Big Idea: Be just, don’t twist justice! Living justly ensures that community life is preserved. Twisting justice ensures disruption of well-being of the community of faith.
True story: July 15, 2000 Tim Tolton was rushing his wife who had intense pain to the emergency ward of a Lakeshore General Hospital in Pointe Claire, west of Montreal, Quebec. But the entrance to Emergency was blocked, so Tim decided to park in front of another set of doors. He just wanted to get his wife into Emergency as fast as possible. Tim remembered picking up a parking ticket on his windshield and throwing it into his car. He forgot about it until he decided to clean out his care and removing his wife’s belongings after her July 30 death.